Living with flying-foxes

Council has a long-term plan for managing flying-fox colonies throughout the Gympie region.

Part of this plan involves rehabilitating historical roost sites that are away from residential areas to encourage the flying foxes to return. Other parts of the plan involve taking action to make roost sites that are in our urban residential areas less desirable. 

Read more about our plan here.

Flying-foxes are intelligent, social animals that live in large colonies. They roost in trees during the day and set up permanent and semi-permanent camps near food sources and for birthing.

The Gympie region currently has 10 known colonies as indicated on this map. A colony is recorded on the map when the site has been used by flying foxes for an extended period of time or in seasonal cycles.

Did you know?

  • Flying-foxes use different calls and scents to communicate with each other.

  • They tend to make the most noise at dawn and dusk, which is when they leave at night to feed and return early the next morning to rest.

  • Flying-foxes are generally quiet throughout the day as they are nocturnal animals, but will get noisy if they are disturbed.

  • When flying-foxes are stressed or frightened, they make a lot more noise.

  • Flying-foxes will often defecate when they are flying out for the evening as a way of reducing their weight to make flying a little easier.

If you find a injured flying-fox on or near your property?

If you find a sick, injured or abandoned flying-fox, please contact a licensed wildlife carer organisation.

A local Gympie wildlife carer group is ANARRA and their phone number is 5484 9111.

If you find a dead flying-fox

Do not touch the flying-fox with your hands.
It is best to remove the dead flying-fox using a plastic bag and towel - or a spade and shovel, and placing it in the bin.
Do not make direct contact with the bat.

Do you have a flying-fox colony near you?

Here are some tips for living alongside flying-foxes:

  • Park your car under cover and don't leave washing out at night
    In an effort to conserve energy and fly faster and higher, flying-foxes will sometimes offload unnecessary weight. This means they may poo on your freshly washed clothes or on car as they fly overhead if they are left out overnight!

  • Avoid disturbing roosts
    Disturbing roosts will most likely scare them and they will make noise to alert others in their roost of potential danger. It may also cause them to split into a number of smaller colonies, which will create many more, smaller roosts.
  • Limit flying-foxes’ access to food
    If you have fruit trees in your backyard, consider covering them with netting to remove the potential food source.
  • Look out for your pet
    If you suspect that your pet has been in contact wtih a flying-fox, and especially if they have been scratched or injured, please visit your local veterinarian without delay.
  • Plant roost trees away from houses
    If you have a property that allows for it, perhaps consider a long-term solution of planting roost trees on your property away from houses so you can support these important animals.

Busting Myths

MYTH

Bats are pests and serve no purpose in our environment

FACT
Affectionately referred to as the ‘bees of the night’, flying‐foxes play a vital role pollinating and dropping seeds throughout our native forests. In fact, it is estimated that a single flying‐fox can disperse up to 60,000 seeds in one night. They are also a primary pollinator of the eucalyptus tree, which koalas need for eating and sleeping. Flying foxes are also excellent natural controllers of moths and mosquitoes.

MYTH

Flying-foxes are dirty animals

FACT
Flying-foxes are very clean animals that are constantly grooming and cleaning themselves. However, flying foxes can be smelly because they use different scents (pheromones) to identify camp trees, each other, and also to attract mates. Mothers are also able to locate their pups in crèche trees by their scent and calls. And while these scents can sometimes be strong and offensive to humans, they do not make the flying foxes dirty.

MYTH

You can catch Lyssavirus from touching bat droppings

FACT
People cannot be exposed to Lyssavirus when flying‐foxes fly overhead, when they roost or feed in trees, or even from touching their droppings. Lyssavirus can only be transmitted through deep tissue bites or scratches, which is why you should never touch a flying fox. In Queensland, all four common species of flying fox, and at least three species of insectivorous micro bat, can carry the Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABLV). However, Queensland Health surveys of flying fox populations have indicated that fewer than 1% of the animals actually carry the virus. In sick and injured flying-foxes, around 7% have been found to carry the virus.

There have only been three known cases of ABLV infection since records began. In comparison, there were 389 deaths from influenza and pneumonia in 2010 alone (data source: Queensland Health 2014)

MYTH

Flying‐fox droppings strip paint from cars and houses

FACT
Bird droppings are actually more corrosive than flying‐fox faeces. If you do find that your property has been dropped on, simply soak the stain with a damp rag at your earliest convenience and wipe it clean. Unless the paint is old or peeling, and unless the faeces dropping is left there for an extended period of time, no permanent damage should result from a bat leaving its calling card.

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